The following ten principles should help you to avoid obvious errors in interpretation whenever you
seek to exegete the Old Testament.
1. An Old Testament narrative usually does not directly teach a doctrine.
2. An Old Testament narrative usually illustrates a doctrine or doctrines taught
3. Narratives record what happened-not necessarily what should have happened or what
ought to happen every time. Therefore, not every narrative has an individual identifiable moral of the story.
4. What people do in narratives is not necessarily a good example for us. Frequently,
it is just the opposite.
5. Most of the characters in Old Testament narratives are far from perfect and their
actions are, too.
6. We are not always told at the end of a narrative whether what happened was good
or bad. We are expected to be able to judge that on the basis of what God has taught us directly and
categorically elsewhere in the Scripture.
7. All narratives are selective and incomplete. Not all the relevant details
are always given (cf. John 21:25). What does appear in the
narrative is everything that the inspired author thought important for us to know.
8. Narratives are not written to answer all our theological questions. They have
particular, specific limited purposes and deal with certain issues, leaving others to be dealt with
elsewhere, in other ways.
9. Narratives may teach either explicitly (by clearly stating something) or implicitly
(by clearly implying something without actually stating it).
10. In the final analysis, God is the hero of all biblical narratives.
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